Community Voices
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Jennifer Coppa. Click to enlarge. (photo: courtesy Jennifer Coppa)

As a child, Jennifer Coppa liked to go fast. 

Her father would take her to skateboarding events and frequent a skate park in Simi Valley where she would compete with mostly boys, as few girls were involved in the sport, especially back then. 

A lifelong San Pedro resident, Coppa has raised her sons and cared for her aging father with the support of her husband. She has been an empty nester for a while. With more time on her hands, she decided to pursue a dream that is not typical for most empty nesters or women her age: Coppa is a competitive skateboarder and one of the fastest in the world.

Her father spent years creating safe spaces for kids to skate off the streets. At age seven, Coppa had a closet full of skateboarding trophies and began to appear in movies and commercials on a skateboard. Now, nearly 50 years later, she has decided to take up racing and is now representing the USA Slalom Skateboarding National Team. 

Growing up in Point Fermin, Coppa describes an ideal childhood along the sea, where she carried her surfboard to Cabrillo Beach, skateboarded, and played in Sunken City. Coppa and her family have been in San Pedro for decades. Like some people, they are fixtures of this town as much as the lighthouse or the Korean Bell — they are San Pedro. 

Coppa is the type of person who picks up trash at the beach when nobody is looking. She is subtle, modest, and daring with a mellow, soft vibe. Jennifer stands out as a woman competing in a male-dominated sport at an age where many are retiring. She is a champion to other women, cheering them on and encouraging them in all areas. 

Coppa wants to share her skateboarding journey with others, but not to shine a light on herself. She wants to encourage people of all ages to do things they love and take risks.

“There are a lot of women in competition with each other. We should lift each other up, straighten each other’s crowns, and encourage the gifts we have,” says Coppa. “We are told we can’t or we shouldn’t, but we can accomplish it. We may get knocked down, but it is okay. Keep going.”

“I hope people are encouraged to do what they love and be inspired. My passion is skateboarding, and the sport has taken off,” Coppa continues. “There are more women now competing, and many are in their 50s. It is a healthy thing to do, like roller-skating, moving forward with mind, body, and soul.” 

When Coppa isn’t practicing in Orange County parking lots, she competes nationwide. She recently placed second in the giant slalom at a competition and is working to compete in Rome this summer at the World Skate Games.

Jennifer recalls her dad telling her she can do it if she puts her mind to it. Her father has passed away, but she knows he would be proud of what she is doing, moving forward on her skateboard with gratitude and grace. spt

photo of san pedro today author Jennifer Marquez

Jennifer Marquez

Jennifer Marquez can be reached at  and @jenntmqz on Twitter and Instagram.